Re: Cohousing Communities after move-in: A "honeymoon" phase?
From: Craig Ragland (
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2008 13:54:59 -0700 (PDT)
Ahh... thanks (again) to Sharon for helping me clarify my thinking. Sharon,
this is unrelated, at least in my mind, to past postings on Coho-L... I'm
seeking new input on this common belief - its interesting to hear that you
didn't experience this at Takoma Village, but that doesn't make it any less
true for some of the 112 other cohousing communities. Maybe this idea is
just something that a few vocal people have passionately shared, but I've
heard it too many times in too many settings to challenge the idea as

As I didn't adequately communicate, communities with more than one
development phase have an economic interest in ongoing outreach, if only for
marketing purposes to complete your neighborhood and minimize the economic
impact of unsold homes. This may or may not be independent from broader
values around community outreach. I personally applaud all efforts to create
connections to your immediate neighborhood (and how this supports the
broader Cohousing Movement!). Significant turn-over also means that more
outreach serves your community's self-interest...

If others could share on this in the coming days it would be great... I feel
this is an important idea. I need to address this as I seek to serve some of
the cohousing communities I'm visiting over the coming months. My first
Coho/US-sponsored tour is on the West Coast - in about 2 weeks. Some evening
meetings are already set up in different West Coast Cohousing communities -
if you are interested in your Built Community hosting a
presentation/conversation entiteld, Our Cohousing Movement, over the next
year, please Reply Off-line - I'll be traveling a fair amount with laptop &
projector (as well as cookies & juice - grin). We can schedule visits far in
advance if it works for you - and that is more helpful to me as I arrange
travel plans.

Anyway, thanks to Sharon's rapid response, here's a new, improved version of
my earlier questions:

1. What is your community's name and move-in date? Did you built-out your
residences all at once or in phases?

2. Have you regularly done outreach since move-in? Have you had a need to
steadily recruited new members, or has this been a relatively rare event?

3. What do you think about this "honeymoon effect" idea - a turning inward
after move-in? Is your perception that it helps describe your community and
its history?

4a. If NO, could you provide a better description of an "initial phase" of
your life together?

4b. If YES, do you perceive that that your group has shifted from this over
time - or does it seem to describe your current state? If useful in
describing your community, and that early phase is now past, how might you
describe where you are now? Any ideas about how you transitioned away from
it? If you are in this state, how do you feel about it?

For context, most of the communities I'm visiting on the West Coast were
built out all-at-once, in a single phase. Some have had high turn-over, some
have been very stable. A few members of communities I'm visiting have asked
me to suggest ideas about how they might break out of their early phase,
which some of their members hope to "get beyond."

I also want to publically thank the woman who responded to this off-line...
your heart-felt sharing was helpful. I always welcome private responses if
you'd prefer to keep your thoughts private. I am good at keeping challenging
situations confidential, without attribution, and your insights can be most
helpful as I endeavor to serve.


On Fri, Aug 15, 2008 at 10:43 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]
> wrote:

> On Aug 15, 2008, at 12:57 PM, Craig Ragland wrote:
>  Common folk-knowledge, at least what some say "authoritatively," is that a
>> great many cohousing communities "turn-in on themselves" after move-in.
> No. I think what was said was that communities become less diverse because
> the people  moving in tend to be friends of the community or people who are
> attracted to the current community. Before move-in, people join based on
> their own vision of what they think cohousing is. Over time the people who
> are not comfortable move out. No one moves in who is not comfortable with
> what they see.
>  That
>> those communities who build all-at-once - and are completely full (or
>> "sold
>> out") - stop the outreach/marketing required for recruitment and then
>> focus
>> on building their community as residents.
> No. We have regular orientations, once a month, I think. We have constant
> inquiries. And we have turn-over of units as well, so we keep a waiting
> list. We have one person who is particularly interested in doing this but I
> think someone else would do it if he didn't.
>  I've heard this referred to as a "honeymoon
>> phase" where the group settles down and "nests."
> For us two phases overlapped. From the beginning people had many
> relationships outside the community and brought them  into the community for
> dinners, etc. Basically these were sightseeing tours and /or reassurances
> for friends and family that this was a safe place. These waned after two
> years or so, but new residents go through this for a year or so.
> Over time, we became more connected to the larger neighborhood, especially
> when we had more children and they started school. This was a new
> neighborhood for all of us initially so it took time to connect on a deeper
> level. I would say we are now as fully integrated into the neighborhood and
> local politics and culture as any of our other neighbors.
> We moved in from Nov 2000 through Feb of 2001, I think. I was in the Nov
> group and don't remember how long it took the others to move in. We were two
> phases with delays along the way.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC

Craig Ragland

Coho/US executive director
craig [at]

Please try email first, include your phone number (w/time zone) - or give me
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